Bolton U21s v Everton U21s
Everton Under-21s bring the first half of their season to an end on Thursday when they face Bolton Wanderers in a rearranged game at Leyland (7pm kick-off).
The two teams were originally due to meet last Monday, however a waterlogged pitch at the County Ground saw the fixture fall victim to the weather.
There is plenty riding on the game for Alan Stubbs’ side, with a number of permutations influencing what division the Under-21s will play in during the second half of the 2012/13 season.
The Blues, who currently occupy sixth position, know a win will definitely see them qualify for Group One, which commences following the turn of the year.
However, a draw or defeat will leave them sweating on Norwich’s result against table-topping West Ham United, which takes place next Monday.
Clubs finishing in fourth, fifth or sixth place progress through to Group One, while those with final positions of seventh or eighth will play in Group Two.
Victory for Everton will seal fourth spot, but defeat or a draw, coupled with a Norwich win, would result in the Canaries leapfrogging the Toffees, who would drop down to seventh position as a consequence.
Should Norwich lose against West Ham, Everton will play in Group One no matter what result they attain against Bolton.
Entering Thursday’s encounter, Everton can take confidence from the fact they are unbeaten in their last two matches and they beat Bolton 5-2 in the corresponding fixture at Finch Farm back in September.
Bolton are already condemned to finishing in bottom place having won just one of their previous 13 matches.
As a sub-plot, Stubbs will be looking to get one over on a few of his former teammates from his playing days with Bolton.
Jimmy Phillips, David Lee and Tony Kelly, who Stubbs lined-up with during his playing days at Burnden Park in the early 1990s, are all part of the Wanderers academy and development squad coaching staff.
The current league table is available to view by clicking here. Fixtures for the second phase of the competition are expected to be announced on December 21.